No. 15 BYU Falls To Gonzaga In Women’s WCC Championship Game

Mar 8, 2022, 4:00 PM
BYU - Gonzaga - WCC Tournament...
BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales battles for a loose ball against Gonzaga defenders in the 2022 WCC Tournament Championship Game on March 8, 2022. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)
(Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

LAS VEGAS – The third time wasn’t a charm for BYU women’s basketball. No. 15 couldn’t take down Gonzaga for a third this season as the two squared off in the WCC Tournament Championship Game.

Despite winning both meetings this year in the regular season to lock up the WCC regular season title, BYU had revenge on the mind in hopes of erasing the bad memories of last year’s loss to the Zags in the tournament title game.

Revenge went in favor of the Zags who locked up another WCC Tournament Championship in Las Vegas. Gonzaga defeated BYU 71-59.

Gonzaga set the tone in the first quarter

For the second day, BYU’s high-powered offense struggled in the WCC Tournament. BYU only shot up 25% from the field in the first frame, compared to Gonzaga shooting 50%. Despite the poor shooting performance, BYU was only down by four, 16-12.

Gonzaga’s Anamaria Virjoghe was making life difficult in the frontcourt for BYU. The Zag big had three blocks in the first quarter.

BYU star Shaylee Gonzales struggled shooting the ball after the first 10 minutes as she was 1-of-5 from the field for only two points. However, she made her presence felt in other areas grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists.

The Gonzaga faithful, who also turn up in huge numbers here in Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament, outnumbered BYU fans and had the Orleans Arena rocking when they got up to a quarter-high eight-point lead.

BYU was not itself to close out the first half

The struggles continued into the second quarter for BYU. Things started okay as Paisley Harding knocked down a three to open the quarter, but BYU only scored six points in the remaining 9:42 of the quarter.

Ball security was an issue for BYU as they committed six turnovers in the second quarter to bring the first half total to nine.

All-WCC performers Lauren Gustin and Tegan Graham were scoreless the entire first half. Both combined for 0-of-6 from the field.

Gonzaga is the one team in the WCC that consistently gives BYU headaches. The Zags led BYU in Spokane by 15 earlier this year before the Cougars roared back to secure a 12-point victory.

Led by Shaylee Gonzales, BYU shows life in the third

BYU outscored Gonzaga in the third quarter, 17-14, to cut the deficit to five entering the final ten minutes. Gonzales scored six of BYU’s 17 points that included an end-of-the-quarter drive to the basket, with her splitting the Gonzaga defenders.

As was the case in Monday’s semifinal game against Portland, the game is physical. The officials calling the game are letting a lot of contact go uncalled. It set up a potentially thrilling finish in the WCC final.

BYU/Gonzaga: Zags close it out in the fourth quarter

BYU trimmed Gonzaga’s lead to three on two different occasions in the first three minutes, but the Zags always had an answer. First, Gonzaga’s Melody Kempton scored a pair of buckets in the paint, then Kayleigh Truong buried a corner three to put the Zag back to ten with 6:23 remaining.

Coming out of the timeout, BYU’s Tegan Graham buried a three for only her second field goal make of the day. Then Zag forward Yvonne Ejim buried a midrange jumper heading into the final media timeout of the game.

Then Kayleigh Truong buried a three, her first of the day, to get the Zag lead up by a dozen. BYU’s offense then went ice cold scoring no points in 3:48 of action.

BYU trailed Gonzaga 60-50 with two minutes remaining after a pair of Gonzales free throws. The Cougars then started to apply full-court pressure, but it was too little too late.

For the second consecutive year, Gonzaga took down BYU in the WCC Tournament title.

Next Up for BYU Women’s Basketball

Regardless of the loss, BYU is headed to the Women’s NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid. The hopes of hosting games is now likely out the door after the defeat to Gonzaga.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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No. 15 BYU Falls To Gonzaga In Women’s WCC Championship Game